Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Way to Man Up

During a week that contains a holiday, things get odd. Last night, out on our street, I had the conversation that I thought I'd have a lot more frequently when I started this stay-at-home dad thing. I've actually only had it a couple of times in the two years since I started. The father of the kids two doors down from us was out watching his 7- or 8-year-old daughter.

"I guess my wife's decided to let her roam around the neighborhood by herself," he says. "I don't really agree with that, but..." He trails off, sounding wistful.

"There's lots of kids in the neighborhood," I say, not knowing quite what else to say.

"So, did you get a few days off this week to spend with your son?" he asks.

"No, I spend every day with him."

"Oh. Got laid off, huh?"

"No, I stay home with him full-time." I answer. Now he's the one who doesn't know what to say. And then, because I feel like I have to justify myself, I add, "I work a couple part-time jobs nights and weekends."

"Oh," he says, and conversation comes to a halt.

During a holiday week, it's much harder to play "Spot the SAHD" at the playground, too. There were lots of dads at Central Market today. Stay-at-home and otherwise. One dad was kicking a soccer ball with his kids, and without hesitation, Thumper ran right into the middle of their game. It was one of those moments when I wonder if I should stop him, but then I don't. Will they be annoyed by him getting in the way? Will he take a shot to the face? If I have to take him to the emergency room for a broken nose and tell the story of how he got it, will the doctor wonder what kind of idiot I am that I couldn't see that coming?

So he runs into the middle, and everyone is kind and patient with him. They lightly kick him the ball now and then, and encourage him to kick it back. He runs and runs, chasing the kids who are chasing the ball and yelling as they yell. Eventually, inevitably, the ball hits him in the back of the head and lays him out, face first. The other dad and I both run over, and Thumper just lays there for a moment, stunned.

I help him up and ask, "Are you OK?"

"Yeah," he says, and claps his hands together, brushing the dirt off. He looks a little dazed, but after a few seconds, he's off again, running and yelling.

The boy who kicked the ball runs over, too, and apologizes profusely. I tell him if Thumper chooses to run into the middle of a soccer game, it's bound to happen. It wasn't the kid's fault.

"Geez," the kid says. "He's tough!"

"Wow," the dad says. "Not even one tear."

And part of me, the part that believes in gender equality and the acceptability of boys crying, the part that doesn't want to raise him up with a bunch of stupid macho bullshit hang-ups, that part of me is appalled that I flush with pride when someone calls him tough.

And speaking of manly, I'm baking, though not in an apron. I'm making Brandy Snaps, and like most projects I undertake, it's harder than I was expecting. Thank God for the internet, because my Better Homes and Gardens recipe card neglects to mention just how long and at what temperature I'm supposed to bake the batter.

Oh, and this has nothing to do with anything, but it's cute: When we're getting lunch at the salad bar, Thumper sees the gelato display. "Can I have ice cream?" he asks.

"After lunch," I say. "For dessert. But it's gelato." I don't know what the difference is, but the sign says gelato.

He contemplates the stuff in the freezer. "Is it ice cream?" he asks, eyebrows raised and nose wrinkled in puzzlement.

"It's gelato," I say.

"It's ice cream," he says, with a finality that clearly indicates the subject is closed. "I want the pink one."


Brandy Snaps!


anniemcq said...

I love coming here for your take on things. I was so glad to read that you let Thumper join the soccer game. He IS tough, and it's good to let them have those natural consequences once in a while, especially if he's having blast. And don't feel bad for feeling proud when they said he was tough. I have a hunch you would have felt the very same way if Thumper was a girl.

Happy Thanksgiving, and your Brandy Snaps look delish! Give your lovely family my warmest Thanksgiving wishes! Especially that Thumper. Love that kid!

I, Rodius said...

Thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving to all the McQ's!

Related Posts with Thumbnails